Jun 6, 2014

Little Bird, Little Bird Tutorial

Earlier this week I mentioned a tutorial might be in order for  my little bird.  Well, who wants to make a little clay bird?  If you do, here's the tutorial, enjoy!  

So, first things first, to make these guys you need to know what to make them with

Supplies needed are:
Polymer clay in various colors
Wire, a thicker gauge works best
Aluminum foil
Wire Cutters
Two Small Brads or Black Beads
Dark Brown Paint
Paint Brush
an Oven
Paper Towels

Step 1:  Cut a longish piece of wire (you will need two of these actually, one for each foot)

Step 2:  Find the middle of the wire and make a loop, this will be the center loop.  Then take each end of wire and bend them so that each end makes another loop.  When done, you should have three loops total and twist or wrap the end of the wire through the loops so they are connected. Repeat those steps so that you have two little bird feet

Step 3:  Next, cut another long piece of wire and wrap it around the legs.  This gives it character but also helps to add strength to the legs so it can support the body.  She the photo on the right for how it will look when it is done.  When done, set feet aside.

Step 4:  Take your aluminum foil and made two balls.  Granted, they aren't really balls because they aren't really perfectly round.  You need one small one for the head and one larger one for the body.  

Step 5:  Once you get them the size you want, cover them both with clay

Step 6:  After each is covered, hook the two pieces together, then smooth the clay around where the two piece join so that you can't see any seems.  Also, as you are smoothing, position the head in the area you want.  Notice the difference in the two photos?  As I smoothed the clay out I also raised the head and neck.

(sorry for the color difference in the photos - I was dealing with clouding and then the sun came out.  The following photos show the color as they should be - the bird was actually purple)

Step 7:  Now that the head and body are joined, push the legs into the body. Once they are pushed into place, smooth the clay around the tops of the legs.  Also, your bird might not be able to stand up yet.  It's ok.  Don't worry too much about that.  The balance of the bird will need to be tweaked.  Do this by spreading out the feet a bit and you may even have to add a slight bend to the legs. Just play with it until you get it balanced.

Step 8:  It's now time for the wings.  Take two small balls of clay, I used blue, and shape them into wings.  If you want, after you get them shaped you can add designs to the clay.  Use a stamp or whatever you can find.  I used some clear plastic design pages.

Because I know you will ask:  My daughters had an old Fashion Designer set that came with these clear plastic pages.  The idea was that you could put your paper over them and color on top of them to leave a design, well, they out grew that toy but before we threw it out, I snatched the plastic pages - so glad I did as I love the impression they left in the clay.

Step 9:  Next, carefully attach the wings to the body of the bird.  Basically you are just going to squish the two clays together.  Push carefully though, you want them connected but you want to maintain the shape and design as much as you can.

Step 10:  Using a gold or orange clay, pinch off just a little and shape it into a triangle.  Then, add it to the end of the bird's head and shape it in place to make the beak.

Step 11:  Add in the eyes next.  I used small scrapbooking brads but beads or even small nails will work

Step 12:  And finally, we just need to add in some little details to add character and quirk.  First, I took red clay and shaped a small little heart and added it to the bird.  Then, using some of the left over wire, I bent four little pieces that look like staples.  I then added two to each wing.  They are purely decorative, they aren't weight bearing at all.

Step 13:  And there you have it, a cute little bird that is ready to bake.  To set the clay you will need to bake him in a pre-heated oven set at 275 degrees.  Bake for 18 minutes and then let completely cool.

After baking, and once cooled, it's time to paint.  I like to paint them because it adds an antiquey (is that a word?) look plus I think it adds to the final finished look.  I use a dark brown paint, any brand will work.  You will need to have water on hand as well as paper towels.  Keep these things close because you need to work fast or the paint will dry and stain the clay. 

Step 14: You will be painting your bird in sections and then wiping off most of the paint.  So, start in one area, load it up with paint and then using a damp paper towel, quickly wipe off the paint.  Some of the paint will stay in the crevices and this is what you want.  The picture on the right shows the paint wiped off but you can see how some it is still in the polka dots. Continuing painting and wiping off so that whole bird is done.

Step 15:  Next, after the paint has dried.  Paint on a coat of Polyurethane.  I love the brand the shown and I usually will put on two coats.  Be sure to let it dry before handling.

Step 16:  Sit back and enjoy your creation.  And that is all there is to it!

You could make them as gifts or just make them just because!